Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New York Stories

Yes, I have returned!

New York Stories
Some funny stuff and a Big Picture Conference recap.

Mean Fiddler Pub for Patriots vs. Jets
I arrived in NYC on Sunday and settled in to my room. The City is so fast and high energy I was a bit overwhelmed. Luckily my good friend David Batista was game for meeting up with me and showing me around New York! We walked past Times Square (so many people!) and eventually settled in at The Mean Fiddler Pub to watch most of the Patriots vs. Jets game. Crowd was disappointed as Patriots beat up Jets. I was not really watching as getting to know David was way more fun. Had a few beers and then grabbed some NYC pizza. Thanks David for meeting up and for being a good friend. I will be back again.

Lunch Time and Funny Story Number 1
On Monday I had the extreme pleasure of meeting up with Josh Brown for lunch at mid day. Also was lucky to meet Julian Hebron (The Basis Point) as well. I left to meet them at 12:30 with plenty of time to spare and was about two streets away when the biggest Columbus Day parade I have ever seen closed down 5th avenue! I had to fast walk down 7 streets to be able to cross, then come all the way back up. I was a few minutes late, but who could have known? Lunch was great and the discussion was very good. Thanks Josh and Julian!

Funny Story Number 2
The Big Picture Conference was on Tuesday. Registration was at 8am and the show started at 8:30. I got up early (6am) and got my stuff together to go. At last minute I pulled up the NY Athletic Club website (the location of conference) and of course for the first time I noticed the "dress code" button. Shit. I knew this was bad. Checked and of course you MUST have a jacket to get into the building! I did not pack one, it was like 84 degrees and I figured business casual. I called and the man on the phone was adamant about the jacket requirement. Uh oh.

Started searching for clothing stores near my hotel that opened at 8am. Only 1: Brooks Brothers! I took off to make sure I was there at 8am. On the third floor I explained my situation to the totally awesome sales man Michael. He said not to worry. I got this really nice sports jacket in 5 minutes at the low price of.....$400. Yikes, but I like the coat and I was good to go to the conference.

The Big Picture Conference Recap
This was a closed conference so I will not go ever every detail. I have 9 pages of hand written notes but this is a quick run down.

Catherine Mulbrandon
Catherine runs the site Visualizing Economics. She presented serious eye candy charts and diagrams which covered income in the United States, job growth/declines, and what was moving and by how much employment wise. A top notch level of work and it was very impressive.

Paul Brodsky
Paul Brodsky co-manages QB Asset Management. His big picture (pun intended!) view is well thought out. Loved the discussion of the concept of how much actual currency there is versus how many claims on that same money exist. It's a factor of almost 20X. This brings up my endless talk about the notional view of money. There was much, much more but I would leave it with his idea that he does not need to promote gold, central banks are doing that all by themselves. Classic.

Barry Ritholtz
The host himself and author of The Big Picture. We were treated to plenty of important mental aspects of trading including herding, group think, recency effects, and more. Spoke about how people rely on and prefer stories or narratives instead of looking at data. Thought provoking stuff.

Joe Saluzzi and Sal Arnuk
Partners for Themis Trading, this presentation was very important. Both men went over the structure of the market as it ties in with HFT trading. Pointed out that the NYSE does not really do trades anymore, but instead sell orders and information for profit. They covered SMART routing and the role of Dark Pools. Fascinating stuff and I have copious notes to go through from this section.

Markets and New Media
Moderated by Kelly Evans, the panel was Josh Brown, Joe Wiesenthal, Dan Gross, and Todd Harrison. Josh thought that social media is a perfect fit for finance. Dan Gross noted that it allows faster and cheaper transmission of information but also noted that republishing without credit is an issue for writers/services that rely on ad revenue. That is an issue. Todd Harrison notes that Minyanville (and everyone) have to respond to innovations to keep up pace. Wiesenthal remarked on news feeds he follows, and I have seen Joe Tweeting at 4am with the latest news. We also learn that Josh Brown wants to be the blogging Walter Cronkite.

Market Turmoil Panel
Some big guns here. Moderated by Aaron Task (whom I used to read a decade ago on!) and featuring Kevin Lane, Peter Boockvar, and John Roque.

Task really went right for it asking for best ideas form each panel member. Roque felt that the recent rally had legs to get higher near term. Boockvar was very honest and said looking out 2 months he is not sure what will happen (me neither, nobody does!). Great talk about correlation. Panel felt that at a real low, correlation will go down across all asset classes. Gold was strongly favored by Roque. Solid talk about US Treasury market being manipulated by FED so it's not the same indicator it once was. There was a ton more but that's a good taste.

James Bianco
Leader of Arbor Research, James Bianco was LIGHTS OUT! Correlation between assets is because they all share the SAME fundamental now, trillion dollar bailouts with no end. Mentions the importance of "Thrust Days" (9:1 ration of up stocks to down and vice versa). Usually 1 every three years, there have been 12 since this past summer!

Notes that spending on the 2007-2011 crisis has been 6 times bigger than any previous crisis (wow!). Bianco believes the FED cannot raise rates anytime soon, and he means years not quarters. I have plenty more notes but those are some bullets.

Cult of Personality
Josh Brown moderated this panel including James Altucher, Howard Lindzon, and Henry Blodget. Altucher leads off with an outrageous statement! I tweeted "WTF did @jaltucher just say!" but he makes it work. Lindzon makes it clear he will tweet for a money as long as it's the right price (kidding Howard!). Blodget recounts how hard it was to get a second chance in the business. Altucher says honesty is the absolute best way to keep and build credibility. F - bombs were flying as well. A lively panel!

Fireside Chat with Doug Kass
Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners joined Barry Ritholtz for an extended question and answer session. Kass covered the 10 points he watched to think the 2009 market bottom was real, a huge call. Asked about his stance that technical analysis was "voodoo" Kass answered that it's 10 times more important to see that fundamentals lead charts to where they go, except at inflection points. I don't agree with that sentiment, especially now with so many technicians using them.

Kass notes that no new money coming into market; it's a bathtub that is losing water with all the splashing around which was a great analogy. He brings up the concept of "Screwflation" again. Kass notes that opportunistic traders will do better than buy them and forget it types for a while.

During lunch I got to meet and talk with James Altucher for a bit. I wished his wife Claudia well in her fight against Lyme disease. James is a class act, thanks James!

After all that, it was time for a little party at The Dream Hotel at the roof top bar.

I got to hang out with Phil Pearlman (thanks man, you rule!), Robert Sinn (he is so tall!), JC Parets (great tips on using multiple time frames for charts, thanks!), and the young gun Swoon (nice bringing charts to the party for everyone to review, too funny bro!). I finally got to meet Barry Ritholtz and amazingly he knew who I was and remembered a tweet I sent him about this sick as all get out Corvette.

Everything has to end and people filtered out after a while to go get dinner and what not. I realized two things; I had only eaten half a turkey sandwich at lunch and I had perhaps had a few too many wobbly pops with the boys. I was not feeling all that great and my phone battery died so I went back to the hotel to settle down and get ready to leave. I am mega pissed because I missed a chance to meet up with a long time influence of mine, Kevin Depew of Minyanville. I will try again Kevin!

Had a great time but always great to come home.

Have a great night.


josh said...

really glad you came, thx for the writeup


getyourselfconnected said...

Thanks for everything Josh, means a lot. My pleasure. Jacket story is hilarious.

GawainsGhost said...

Always pack a dinner jacket, GYC, and a tie. Or better yet, a suit. You just never know when you might need one.

I'll be flying up to Nashville to visit my friend Boogyity on New Year's. Usually, I wear what we call a Cowboy tux--a light gold suede jacket, authentic NFL Staubach (#12) jersey, faded jeans, a black belt with a big silver Texas star buckle, Tony Lama black shark boots, a ten gallon Stetson, and Aviators.

But I'll also pack a suit, tie and dress shoes. I might meet some Tennessee hottie who can't keep her hands off a Texan. But if I take her on a date, I'm not going to dress like I just walked off a farm.

I've been reading Reckless Endangerment, and it's really very good. Unlike Econned, which focussed mainly on financial scams, this book delves into the corruption at the highest levels of corporate and political institutions that led to the financial collapse.

It's an easy read. Morgenson and Rosner do a good job of explaining complex issues in understandable terms. If you want to get an idea of the mess we're in and how we got there, particularly as it relates to the housing market, this is the book to read. But it will really piss you off.

I'll send you my review when I'm done, maybe some time next week.

I'm glad you enjoyed your time in New York.

getyourselfconnected said...

Will be glad to see the review Gawains. Thanks for stopping in.

Jennifer Hillier said...

You can never go wrong with Brooks Brothers, and at least you have a funny story to tell whenever somebody compliments you on it!

Sounds like you had a great time in NYC. Great post!

getyourselfconnected said...

Thanks JH! Congrats on the new book number 2 title!

David Batista said...

In case I didn't say it enough: it was AWESOME meeting you, bro! :)

Seriously, I haven't had that much fun in a while. I'm only bummed we didn't get to hang out more. Either you have to come back to the city for a longer stay, or I'm heading up there to northern Mass!

But, yeah, sounds like you had quite a go at it. The Brooks Bros. story is just priceless. Almost literally -- ouch! And I should have warned you about the parade. Thing is, I forgot about the holiday myself until it was already 2 in the afternoon. For me it was just another Monday at work.

Glad you made it home safe. And thanks for talking shop with me for a little while there, amongst all the Highlander fanboy talk I mean.

Jake said...

Ah... a tourist getting ripped off in Manhattan. Makes me miss my home of 11 years.

GawainsGhost said...

To continue, it's like this, GYC.

When you walk into a room where there's money, particularly old money, there are certain rules for how a man should dress. And these rules cannot be broken.

Look. You could walk into a room where there's old money, wearing a baggy suit, shirt untucked, tie undone, unshaven, hair messed up, unkempt, looking like a bum off the street. If you're wearing black leather, lace up dress shoes, clean, polished and well heeled, they will associate with you. They'll think you're eccentric, but they will associate with you.

On the other hand, you could walk into that same room in a tailored suit, well groomed, well scented, looking like a million bucks. If you are wearing any other shoe, and I mean that--any other shoe--if you are not wearing black leather, lace up dress shoes, clean, polished and well heeled, they will not associate with you. They certainly will not do business with you.

That's just the way it is, especially with old money. I know these people. I'm talking about people whose families have been rich for generations. I've been to their islands. I've managed their properties and sold their buildings. They do business with me, a mere rube actually, because I know how to dress. And they respect that.

I'm not talking about the nouveau riche, like Steve Jobs or that Google guy, whatever his name is. They think they can walk around dressed like slobs, because no one is going to tell them anything. Yeah, they got their money, but they don't know how to wear it.

The definitive book on the subject is Dress for Success, by John T. Molloy. Highly recommended.

When you walk into a room where there's money, you want everyone to look at you and think, that's a man. A serious man, who knows how to dress. Black leather, lace up dress shoes, clean, polished and well heeled. There is no other shoe.

Of course, it depends on the setting. There is a place for casual, for business casual, and for business formal. Black tie means a tuxedo.

It's always better to be the best dressed man in the room. Then all the girls want to know your name. And the people with money will associate and do business with you.

That's reality.

GawainsGhost said...

Oh, and men wear greys and blues. Men do not wear browns. Only losers wear browns. This especially applies to brown shoes. They make you look like you just walked through a puddle of shit.

The Sovereign Bohemian said...

Glad you made it back in one piece, GYSC. Wish I could have been there. I've never gone to NYC, and don't have any desire to, but I'd have gone in a heartbeat to do what you did.

Take good care of your sport coat. I'll probably just stick to my Wranglers. (That's why I know you...)

The Big Picture Conference sounds exactly like something I'd like.

I was just emailed a pork tenderloin recipe that I am going to post about. Amy swears her husband and 3 kids love it. (Disclaimer: I work with Amy. Makes me think she wouldn't have told me about it if it wasn't killer...and she emailed my website. No wonder she looked at me funny today. She emailed me 2 days ago. I am kind of slow.)

Hope things at home are good on your return.

Wasn't Brooks Brothers one of the sponsers of the early Price Is Right? If not, they should have been.

The Sovereign Bohemian said...

Well Geez, "That's why I know you...". I know I had a thought there somewhere, but not sure where it went. Night.

Watchtower said...

$400 jacket?!?!

I can't believe you didn't post a pic of that bad boy!

Sounds like you had a great time, I'm glad it turned out well.

Anonymous said...

I hope you returned that Brooks Brother's jacket like any real NYer would have done !

"well, I tried it on and decided it wasn't the right look for me"

getyourselfconnected said...

Thanks for all the comments! Running way late tonight so probably no post. There will be a Friday night post so you know to get the requests in.

The Basis Point said...

Great write up, and great to meet you. Fun trip!

getyourselfconnected said...

Thanks Julian! If next TBP conference is in San Francisco we can hang out again.

Jeff said...


Nice to read you again man.

I know you had been wanting to make a trip like that for awhile so I'm glad you had a chance to do it.

Great feedback from some seriously smart people.

Kass's bathtun theory is brilliant.

Stay in touch bro!


GawainsGhost said...

In memory of your NY excursion, and in honor of you $400 sport coat, I recommend Five Man Electric Band, "Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign."

Of which Tesla did an excellent cover.

Oh, say now mister, can't you read
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can't watch, no you can't eat, you ain't supposed to be here

And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" - uh!

Take your pick.

I got to tell you, this book I'm reading, Reckless Endangerment, is excellent. It reads like a road map to armageddon.

In fine detail, Morgenson and Rosner lay out the principal players, politicians and policies that paved the way for a global financial collapse. If you want to understand how we got into this mess, this is the book to read.

But I would warn you to heed Dante's inscription of the gateway to Hell: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

The Sovereign Bohemian said...

My Friday request is Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride. Come on weekend!